‘And Jesus wept’ This verse, the shortest in all the gospels, is found in our gospel passage from John 11 this weekend, Jesus weeps as he sees all the mourners around the tomb of his good friend, Lazarus, who had died four days ago. Jesus deliberately kept away from visiting Lazarus as he was dying, even though Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary, had pleaded with him to come and save their brother from dying. This was in part due to the political situation, with many of the authorities on the look-out for Jesus, to arrest him. But it was also due to the fact that Jesus wanted to prove to everyone that nothing, not even death, was stronger than He. He knew that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, he was confident in his power to save, yet he also wept at the tomb of his good friend, to show us that death is a part of life, and must be accepted, but it also is not the end of life. As the first Preface for the Dead in our Eucharistic Prayers for Mass declares: “Lord, for your faithful, life is changed, not ended.”|
Changed, not ended. Jesus is greater than death, greater than sickness, and, yes, greater than the coronavirus. This is a time for us, not to run away through fear from the virus, but to stand up to it, and pray to the Lord, for him to overcome this epidemic, believing that he can even raise people from the dead. Even though we are in lock-down mode right now, there is nothing stopping us going into prayers of intercession and spiritual warfare, agreeing to pray together at a certain time and day the rosary, or the Divine Mercy, or whatever, even if we have to be in our own homes while we are doing it. The Bible, the Word of God, is a “living power for those who believe” and we can, and should, declare it aloud during our prayer times, especially Scriptures like Psalm 91, which speak of the protection of God, or 2 Corinthians 20, which speaks of the victory of the people of God over an overwhelming enemy, because “the battle is not yours, but God’s” (v.15) , or Acts 4: 23-31, where the early Church prays to God for deliverance and boldness against the forces seeking to destroy them, and “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with all boldness” (v. 31).
We are not “in the flesh,” i.e. weak and helpless human beings, but we “are in the Spirit” because “the Spirit of God dwells in you,” as our second reading from St Paul’s letter to the Romans this weekend tells us. Let us start to agree together in prayer, to lift up our voices in a united prophetic declaration, as illustrated in our first reading this weekend from the prophet Ezekiel. Let us call upon God to “open our graves” of fear, and discouragement and despair and raise us up as people of faith and trust in God, and boldness through the power of the Spirit.” Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, as he declares to Martha in our gospel today, before challenging her “Do you believe this?”
Do you believe this, brothers and sisters, do I?